Today the semi-circle of chairs was never really full, but we still shared our stories with those who came to listen and learn. One old familiar face came with her grandsons. We talked about the fun we had as children and the activities that were part of our lives. We reminisced about horny toads—the horned lizards of Texas. Most of them are gone now, along with the red ants that used to make life interesting for those of us who were silly enough to stop near their nests. Oh, life was different those many years ago.
Yes, life was different, but not necessarily better or worse. Our knowledge came slowly from reading and listening when I was young. Now, plugging into an online source makes learning easy and fast. But we have lost a few things in the process of making learning easier or faster. Walking under the trees and smelling the river in the summer was an experience that can’t be put online. Watching a pair of mated birds build a nest one thread, one scrap at a time can be put online; but can you see her reject the twig, the piece of hair that doesn’t quite fit her plan? I wonder if an online story would have those parts edited out to save time and space.
Great-grandmother’s quilt was a good place to start showing the youngsters how recycling really started. The cloth tobacco sacks made squares and circles divided into fourths in order to have enough pieces to set the flour sack dress scraps together in rings. And then the children learned why quilting the bat was so important to keeping it in the spaces between the stitched sections. Modern bats are flat and usually stay in place. Older quilts sometimes had goose down or cotton stuffed in between the layers. And quilting was necessary as much as an art form. But the quilts were much smaller than those we have today. Beds were narrow and not very long. A tall man got cold feet during the winter unless he had more than one quilt or slept curled up. Some things have definitely improved in this day and age.
One of the grandmothers who came to sit, rest, and listen could have told us all stories of a different part of the country and a different time. She had lived in Florida as a young person and faced problems that this part of the country simply never had. I hope that she will take the time to tell her son and his children the stories of her childhood. It will matter someday. No computer source on earth can take the place of personal memories shared with loved ones. And memories are the best kind of recycling we can promote. For out of the storehouse of memories will the future be shaped.